No Comment, Quotation — October 22, 2007, 12:00 am

A Nation is What It Tolerates

k__tucholsky

Statt einer Selbstkritik und einer Selbsteinkehr sehe ich da etwas von »Wir sind das bessere Deutschland« und »Das da ist gar nicht Deutschland« und solchen Unsinn. Aber ein Land ist nicht nur das, was es tut – es ist auch das, was es verträgt, was es duldet. Es ist gespenstisch, zu sehen, was die pariser Leute treiben – wie sie mit etwas spielen, was es gar nicht mehr gibt. Wie sie noch schielen – wie sie sich als Deutsche fühlen – aber zum Donner, die Deutschen wollen euch nicht! Sie merken es nicht.

In lieu of self-criticism and self-incarceration, what I see is more in the line of “We are the better Germany,” and “That over there is not really Germany,” and similar nonsense. But a country is not just what it does—it is also what it puts up with, what it tolerates. It is spooky to consider what the Parisian émigrés are up to—how they seek to play with something that has disappeared. How they squint—how they feel themselves to be Germans—but blast it, the Germans don’t want you any more! They don’t notice it.

Kurt Tucholsky, Letter to Arnold Zweig, Dec. 15, 1935 in: Gesammelte Werke, vol. 7, p. 574-75 (1972)(S.H. transl.)

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